Neil Hubbard

Cardiff School of Art and Design managed to get Neil Hubbard from Heatherwick Studio to come down and give a talk. The talk mostly revolved around projects the studio has completed, with a little background information on Neil himself. Heatherwick Studio is a studio based in London that takes on projects which fit into numerous disciplines. They work on a number of projects from designing a chair through to designing a new university space.

I thought the talk was incredible and really inspiring. The work they have created and developed over the years demonstrates the level of experimentation and research that has been applied. They quite literally leave no stone unturned and really show the importance of exploring ideas fully before committing.

However, what really struck with me with their practice is the way they take into consideration every small detail that might go forgotten and they strive to make it better, to heighten the human interaction and with that the human experience. They keep people at the centre of their projects and focus on how someone will interact with the design. Through thinking like this and ensuring they have experimented fully, they are able to create pieces that are truly incredible and unforgettable.

The Olympic Cauldron is a key example of this. Rather than trying to make something bigger and better than what’s been done before, they took a step back and thought of what made the cauldron so special. From this they realised it was the moment the torch lit the cauldron – the human interaction. With this in mind they designed a cauldron that was made up of many petals that came together to make a united cauldron. They used this as a metaphor for each of the countries through providing each nation with their own petal, these were then brought to the centre during the opening ceremony, placed together and lit. As the petals united, it translated to the nations coming together in unity and peace.

It is this style of thinking that I find incredible, the cauldron itself and that moment then become truly unforgettable, because as I’ve mentioned, it keeps the focus on people.

As well as being completely blown away by the endless list of projects completed by the studio, I did manage to take some notes to keep in mind when facing a project:

  • Read the brief.
  • Find new from the old.
  • The brief is all the inspiration you need.
  • Know your context.
  • Create some theatre – this makes it memorable.
  • Zoom in, then zoom out again. Look at the details and the main project, but also consider where it fits in the world and impact it will have.
  • Make everything special – consider the human interaction.
  • Avoid the cliché – alter people’s perceptions.
  • Not just an idea. The idea.
  • Making it real.
  • The importance of making.

These are definitely useful pointers to consider when tackling future projects and are things I will keep in mind and try to start implementing into my own work.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Neil and the journey’s the projects have taken, I found it incredible to see some of the projects that have been successfully completed, because they are things I couldn’t have imagined being reality. It makes you think that anything is possible – it just takes dedication, research, planning and good collaboration.


Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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